GFM Network News


Fowl play in the free-range poultry industry

The dire perils of free-range environments, chickens may be happier indoors, warm and among friends

It seems that the general public has a very distorted view of farming practices, which is helped by the inability or reluctance of the North American farming community to deliver the real facts. Many in the urban general public seem to have fond visions of laying hens or broiler chickens tiptoeing through the green, grassy […] Read more

Monarch butterflies hibernating in Mexico on fir trees.

Glyphosate gets off the butterfly hook

An example of a blatant effort to find a pesticide scapegoat

When I lived in Ontario in the early seventies, monarch butterflies were a common sight in the Guelph area, especially in late September. I would be coaching rugby on the University of Guelph rugby field late in the day and I would see hundreds of monarch butterflies heading south over the playing field at a […] Read more


Some flooded out farmers on the Prairies could help themselves by seeding a cereal crop this month.

Seed cereal crops in August in waterlogged regions of Alberta this year

Crops could remove up to 10 inches of moisture from flooded croplands

This year in the northern and north-central areas of Alberta, particularly in the Edmonton region, we have had an unusually wet spring and summer, following a wet fall and lots of winter snow. It has been estimated this spring and summer that the Edmonton area has had up to 20 inches of rain. As a […] Read more

Every nutrient, whether macro or micro, is essential to attain a yield goal of any crop, and soil testing gives you an accurate answer to reach this objective.

No such thing as a free lunch when it comes to crop nutrition

Yields can suffer if soils are deficient in any crop nutrient

When I worked as a plant pathologist for Alberta Agriculture in the 1970s, I was surprised to find only 10 per cent of Prairie farmers have ever had their soil tested for crop nutrients. How could they grow a cereal or canola crop without knowing what plant nutrients — nitrogen (N), phosphate (P), potassium (K) […] Read more


Are you losing money when selling bales? Consider the alternatives.

Sixteen reasons why grain growers should never sell crop residues

Read this article and you’ll never sell baled straw again

Could it be the last straw or the straw that broke the camel’s back? If you grow lentils, peas, canola, dry beans, fava beans, soybeans or grain corn, it’s normal practice to harvest the grain and leave the combined residue on the cropland. There are exceptions when some of the aforementioned crops may be baled. […] Read more

The facts and fallacies of foliar feeding and other mistaken beliefs

Environmental conditions can dramatically affect the uptake of foliar-applied nutrients

Foliar feeding has been frequently advocated in recent years as a way to boost crop yields, or in the case of nitrogen (N) as a boost for grain protein in wheat. In reality, plants take in very little fertilizer directly through their leaves or stems. In a way, it is a process that does not […] Read more


Mycorrhizal linkage to crop plants in normal soils have been shown to supply phosphate, copper and zinc to growing crops.

Facts about phosphorus you should know

Highly-manured soils, wet growing conditions and lodging in cereal crops

Phosphorus or phosphate (P) is the most complex of the big four macronutrients in crop production. When you buy phosphate fertilizer, you are actually buying P2O5 the oxidized version, which is 62 parts actual P and 80 parts oxygen. Your actual P is only 43 per cent by weight. The phosphate in all soils is […] Read more

Sulphur pollution has been greatly reduced in recent years, so much so that some croplands now require sulphur for specific high-demand crops.

Why is there no mention of sulphur?

The reasons behind this nutrient’s anonymity

Sulphur (S) is one of the big four macronutrient fertilizers required by both plants and animals. Calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) could be added to this list but for reasons unknown they are given a lesser role in crop production in North America. When I was first involved in agriculture in the 1950s, nitrogen (N) […] Read more


The importance of molybdenum

Molybdenum (Mo) is important to the growth of all plants, including your canola

Animals and plants require trace amounts of molybdenum. Its importance is vastly disproportionate with regard to the amount required for normal growth. In past years, most farmers and soil scientists were just getting to grips with sulphur and phosphate requirements of crop plants, let alone nitrogen and potash. It seemed as long as you had […] Read more

Micronutrients and prairie agriculture

As we increase expected yields, we need to consider micronutrient availability

In my many years of involvement in agricultural and horticultural pursuits, I have repeatedly come across cynicism when I talk about the need for micronutrients. North Americans, as well as Europeans, are slow to realize the absolute role that micronutrients play in plant and animal health and well-being. Unlike horticulturalists, particularly the Dutch horticulturalist specialists, […] Read more